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Only the gullible caught in MSN virus

The recent virus that’s found its way into a few computers presents us with a timely reminder about basic internet safety.  Well, it’s common sense, really.  My contacts list on Windows Live Messenger has had the odd display message crying the likes of, “don’t open ANYTHING sent from me”, or “Don’t accept files over MSN unless they’re genuine, viruses!!”  It is a message that should be so ingrained in internet users that it is second nature, but it is one that, once this outbreak passes, will become forgotten again.  And for far too many of my friends, it is already too late.

The most brilliant, most fascinating thing about this virus is how remarkably easy it is to detect and avoid.  It uses a simple, conspicuous method of infection: it sends a message, pretending to be the user of the infected computer, to one of the user’s contacts, in the default font and saying something corny and unnatural (for an instant messaging conversation) like, “I think this picture is terrible. but my friends on myspace want to see it. please dont show noone.”.  It then sends a ZIP file, named something like, “pic_940”.

If the fact that the picture is a ZIP file (not a picture-type file) doesn’t give it away, the preceding message should.  The font differs—I mean, no-one uses the default font, it’s far too ugly to be used by any sane individual.  And the message sounds out-of-place from the fingers of most people.  But you don’t actually need to know any of that.  It just looks suspicious.  It just does.

Anyone on the receiving end that notices (that is, anyone with half a brain) would only have to click the “Decline” button—or not click anything at all—to avoid infection.  The likelihood of it being a virus virtually stares at you in the face.  Only the most gullible fool could have the capacity to accept a file that looked so wrong, so out-of-place, so abnormal.

The gullible, though, are all too common.  This virus, which is a real nuisance for those having to continually click “Decline”, seems to be circulating only through those from my old high school.  For the infected, it is a lesson; for the rest, a reminder.  It is as basic as locking the door when leaving the house, keeping meat on the bottom shelf of a fridge, or refusing a drink from an eager-looking random at a nightclub: accept files only if you know what they are.  (And all the rest of it, like download only from trustworthy sources, don’t give your personal details out and so on.)

I wonder if some people will ever learn.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. L #

    As the great Mr MacDougall once said… "Come on, monkies get this right half the time!"

    23 December 2007

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